Day 124, Friday 5 May
I’ve just tasted something even better than Helman’s Real Mayonnaise. It’s the garlic mayo at Alice’s Restaurant & Hotel, next to the Achill Island bridge County Mayo. If what Arlo Guthrie said/sung about this place is true, I’m not going to want to leave. So far, with great food, the good-for-you black stuff on draught, another stunning sunset over my left shoulder and the Giro d’Italia highlights on the bar telly, Arlo might be right. But I haven’t seen Alice yet.
What have I done to deserve this? Well, maybe another 50+ miles on the road, 30% of which was into the continuing brisk easterly wind? The hungry farm dog who fancied a nibble of my left ankle? The lady in a French registered camper who thought there was plenty of time and room to overtake before the next bend? (There wasn’t, but I survived to tell the tale). On balance, today’s was another great ride. The best bit being the Westport to Achill Great Western Greenway. Thanks John B, Clifden LOM, for the tip. I’d have missed it if not for you. The course of the historic 19th century railway, now possibly the most scenic cycle route in the universe. If there’s a better one, tell me. I’m definitely going there.
Achill Island Lifeboat Station is on the east shore of the island, nestled in between the most beautifully sited final resting place (for many souls lost at sea, countless famine victims in unmarked graves and a good number of named locals who hopefully died of more natural causes) and on the other side, the remaining sturdy tower of one of the Castles loaned to the infamous Irish Lady Pirate, Ghràinne, who Queen Elizabeth 1st respected as another strong woman.
All of the above, and many more pearls of wisdom are courtesy of David (Coxn) and Michael (Mechanic) here on Achill Island. See these fascinating links if you’d like to know more: The Achill Tragedies and The Kirkintilloch Tragedy. The victims of both tragedies are buried in the graveyard next door to the Lifeboat Station, the bodies from each being transported from Westport to Achill on the first and last trains along the long-since closed line (now the Greenway cycle route described above), as prophesied by Brian Ruan O’Ceabhain from Inver in Erris, in the 17th century.
Many thanks to you both for everything today, including allowing me to pretend I was driving the launch tractor, presenting me with a treasured souvenir, which I am proudly wearing right now AND finding a great place for me to eat and sleep. Once more I ask: What have I done to deserve all this?
I know I shouldn’t feel guilty about enjoying this personal quest to raise funds by doing something challenging. But sometimes I do. Maybe the pain of the continuing brisk easterly headwind forecast again for tomorrow will make me feel better.
Local hero Johnny Kilbane doesn’t seem bothered about a brisk easterly headwind.